Webster County Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove’s office in the visitors center at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park features a nice view of the snow drifts outside where, during the last week or so, temperatures have been well below zero.
His office, however, isn’t the site of a winter-long hot cocoa drinking marathon. He, like the rest of the conservation staff, has plenty of projects and work to do during the winter months.
“The staff is currently working on a budget,” he said. “We’re also putting together what we’re trying to do for projects.”
Some of that work includes attempting to estimate revenue.
“With the OHV park campground online and Camp WaNoKi online,” he said. “There’s additional revenue.”
With 24 sites in Webster County, there’s a lot of land to manage.
“We also do habitat planning,” Cosgrove said.
That can include everything from trail work to planning work sessions to remove invasive species.
One of the yearly tasks was done before the current cold spell — cutting and splitting firewood to sell for the 2018 camping season.
“Thank God we’re not doing it today,” Cosgrove said before glancing out at the frigid landscape.
The winter months are also used to perform maintenance work on the various pieces of equipment used for everything from mowing acres of lawns to digging post holes. Staff will also repair picnic tables, build and repair signs, and one year, even made nesting boxes for ducks.
They still do plenty of work outside, though, such as driving the skid loader mounted brush cutter used to knock down stands of invasive species. The medieval looking device makes quick work of a job that would take much longer to perform manually.
Staff also grooms trails in the park for skiers and are partnering with the Fort Dodge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department to remove snow from some of the trails to extend their use to the winter months.
Park visitors don’t stop coming to the parks just because it’s cold and there’s snow on the ground. All of the 24 sites in the county are open year round. Visitors are welcome to hike, enjoy outdoor photography or cross country ski.
“There’s a lot of visitors ice fishing, sledding, skiing and hiking,” Cosgrove said. “The weather doesn’t seem to slow them down.”
One of the outdoor activities that can be enjoyed at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park is cross country skiing. With a good cover of snow on the ground and the ongoing cold temperatures, there should be ample time to get out and enjoy the sport.
For those who would like to give it a try, there are several open skiing sessions scheduled for January and February at Kennedy Park.
They are set for Jan. 13, Jan. 27 and Feb. 10. All sessions are from 9 to 11 a.m. There is no charge.
There are also several twilight skiing events set for the winter in the evenings.
They are set for Jan. 31 and Feb. 14. Both from 5 to 7 p.m.
Finally there’s also a Blue Moon Night Fun event on Jan. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. Participants can hike, ski or snowshoe by moonlight, learn about the moon and make their own hiking sticks.